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A totally doable, not so intimidating self-care survival guide to 2018

After an October week from hell — when allegations against Harvey Weinstein first began to unravel, Donald Trump threatened to take aid away from Puerto Rico, women boycotted Twitter, and historic wildfires destroyed California — I splurged on a large Blue Raspberry Icee and sat alone in a 12:15 p.m. Saturday showing of Marshall. I turned my phone all the way off, and over the course of the next two hours I ugly cried in the dark.

Afterwards, I drove to a bookstore and spent $82.47. I went home, applied a face mask and collapsed onto my bed, escaping into the pages of one of my new books for hours. I met my friend for dinner, cherished every single bite of a cheeseburger, rushed back to my pillow, and fell asleep before watching re-runs of The Mindy Project.

This was my own personal form of self-care.

For so many, self-care has been the unsung savior of 2017. You’ve probably heard the term thrown around daily, but learning exactly what it means and why it’s so essential will help to better practice it in the new year.

Am I doing this thing right?

Self-care methods — personalized rituals that allow people to take a step back from this messy world to prioritize their well-being and preserve their mental health — differ for each individual and in each scenario, so there’s really no right or wrong.

For Hillary Clinton self-care could mean anything from frantic closet cleaning, long walks in the woods, and playing with her dogs, to yoga or sitting down to enjoy a glass of wine. For Michael Phelps, who’s conquered the pressures of Olympic competition but has struggled with depression and anxiety over the years, it’s working out or heading to the golf course. The only constant is that methods of self-care must benefit and focus on you.

“A lot of times people will say ‘I spend time with my kids,’ which is great and meaningful but that’s still taking care of somebody else,” said Monnica Williams, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and associate professor at University of Connecticut’s Department of Psychological Sciences. “When you self-care it’s really about you recharging.”

Self-care isn’t selfish

Some people abstain from self-care for fear that their behavior would come across as selfish. They simply can’t resist the urge to put other people first.

According to a 2017 “Women’s Wellness Report” from Everyday Health, which studied 3,000 women from ages 25 to 65 in the U.S., 76 percent of women said they were were more likely to put their own personal needs after someone else’s. However, more than half of the participants said that taking time for themselves was the greatest factor in achieving wellness. (Disclosure: Mashable and Everyday Health are owned by the same company, Ziff Davis.) 

“You can’t be the best you in any other contexts if you’re not taking care of yourself.”

“It’s essential for your mental health and your physical health,” Williams said, noting that self-care is anything but selfish. “You can’t be the best you in any other contexts if you’re not taking care of yourself.”

“I heard someone say that it’s like putting on your own oxygen mask in an airplane emergency before putting one on a child,” added Crystal Park, another professor at the University of Connecticut’s Department of Psychological Sciences. 

“The healthier and more resilient we are, the more effective we can be in our lives.”

Heading into 2018 with some solid self-care guidelines will help you better manage your stress and survive whatever challenges are in store, so here are a few to keep in mind.

Don’t be afraid to take a mental health day

Your mental health is important, but it’s also extremely easy to ignore. When your job gets too overwhelming or events in your personal life prevent or distract you from doing your best work in the office it’s time to take a step back.

For inspiration, look no further than one of 2017’s viral personal tales: the story of Olark CEO Ben Congleton advocating for his employee after learning she’d taken time off for mental health reasons.

After Congleton’s understanding email sparked discussion about mental health in the workplace, he wrote a post on Medium further emphasizing the need to normalize it.

When you are at work, take additional steps to make your environment a place of comfort. Personalize your desk with a plant, a framed photo of something that makes you smile, or set the mood with a tiny lamp. 

And every so often, book a conference room for lunch with your coworkers to share pizza and a cake you buy for the sole reason of craving cake. Work will still be there when your lunch break ends, but taking time to clear your head is crucial.

Give social media and screens a rest

Social media usage often starts with the intention of getting caught up on current events and quickly spirals into a black hole of negativity.

“So many people are plugged in and instantly alerted to everything that is happening in the news in ways that weren’t possible 10 years ago,” said Dr. Carolyn Mazure, director of Women’s Health Research at Yale.

While platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have been proven to take a toll on self-esteem and mental health, social media isn’t all bad.

Here are a few ways to make online communities safer spaces for you:

  • Follow encouraging accounts like Janelle Silver‘s, who promotes her self-care-themed Etsy store.

  • Unfollow people on Facebook. (This helps you to remain friends with them but hides their posts from your timeline.)

  • Turn off push notifications.

  • Use Twitter’s mute feature to shield yourself from triggering words.

Transform your cell phone into a self-care hub 

While it’s healthy to disconnect from technology every so often, when you do have your phone by your side these tips can help make the experience more enjoyable.

  • Make use of your Do Not Disturb function.

  • Free up some storage space by parting with old text messages you have no intention of ever revisiting, deleting unused apps and contacts, and loading all photos and videos onto your laptop so you’re left with an empty album.

  • Download self-care apps related to deep breathing, meditation, list-making, and maybe even a relaxing game or two, like Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp.

  • Create empowering or soothing playlists so you can easily listen to mood-lifting music on-the-go.

Treat Yo Self, but treat others, too

No matter how small, make a daily attempt to treat yourself to an experience or a purchase that’ll brighten your mood.

Get a pedicure or massage, take a hot bath, go for a walk around the block, go out with friends, or cancel plans to stay in on a Friday night to recharge and binge-watch mindless television, if that’s what you need.

And while being good to oneself is key, Park noted “balance is important” in self-care, and making an effort to give back to others often helps people feel better. Consider volunteering, or clean out your closets and drawers to donate unwanted items to charity.

Put positivity on display

One form of self-care can be as simple as not being so hard on yourself all the time. It sounds simple, but it can be a serious challenge at times. Visual reminders can help.

When in doubt, turn to this handy self-care printable, titled “Everything is Awful and I’m Not Okay.” The checklist presents 16 questions for you to answer and serves as a helpful reminder to stay hydrated, shower, participate in physical activity, and be kind to yourself.

Keep a copy of the printout in your bag for comfort or hang it somewhere you know you’ll see it.  (Mashable HQ has one on the wall of the women’s restroom.)

Affirmations are another great way to be kind to yourself and can serve as help. Glancing at inspirational quotes, uplifting doodles, or a few words of positivity can lift your spirits. The Mashable women’s restroom also has a few on display. (Very good restroom.)

Image: nicole gallucci/mashable

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Though the term self-care sounds like an isolated practice, it doesn’t have to be.

If you’re someone who struggles to commit to individual self-care routines, or simply takes enjoyment from the company of others, spending time with and opening up to a friend, loved one, therapist, or even reaching out to the Crisis Text Line could be extremely beneficial.

Just know that you’re not alone in your stress and professionals are out there to help. 

“Certainly, if possible, try to see a stressful situation as an opportunity to grow, and consider the power of reorienting how you confront a stressful situation when it arrives,” Mazure said.

“Instead of thinking, ‘Oh no, not again,’ perhaps a good self-care perspective might be, ‘I’ve seen stress before. I’ve got this.'”

If you want to talk to someone or are experiencing suicidal thoughts, text the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Here is a list of international resources. 

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The White House website redesign makes it — surprise! — even less transparent

The White House revamped its website Friday, and its new look proves it’s possible for the Trump administration to make things even more opaque.

The White House website is where the public comes to watch live videos of the president and press briefings, as well as access media statements and position papers. But the new design makes all that difficult to do.

The previous iteration of the site wasn’t anything amazing, but it was at least navigable. 

Website visitors quickly noticed that live videos were hard to find and topics Trump likes talking about, such as the economy, are on display, making it feel more like propaganda material than a public resource.

Overall, site visitors weren’t impressed.

It seems the new site is all about search, which keeps things out of view until they’re explicitly looked up, like climate. A few big issues top the page: “Economy,” “National Security,” “Budget,” “Immigration,” and “Healthcare,” but if you want anything on, say, climate change, you’ll have to search. Sure, those pointing to the redesign as another way for Trump to hide stuff may be verging a bit into conspiracy territory, but the Trump administration has a record of doing away with unwanted information.

Here’s what the White House homepage looked like just a day ago, left, and then today, right. 

Old website

Old website

New website

New website

No matter the intention behind the layout change, it’s not easy to find information, despite the White House spinning the redesign as a good thing.

“The old site was a good temporary measure that allowed us to use what the previous administration had built, but it wasn’t where it needed to be in terms of providing people with content they can easily access,” a White House official told the Washington Examiner.

The previous site wasn’t an open book by any means, but the different drop down menus made it somewhat easier to navigate to a certain topic. Now everything is hidden.

As a journalist, the since-deleted “Briefing Room” menu is a huge loss. To find live coverage on the site now requires a confusing maze of clicks starting with the subtle top left-hand corner “hamburger” icon. Once there, click “About the White House” and on that landing page head to the bottom footer where a small font says “Live.” 

That was easy -- not.

That was easy — not.

At least the over-simplified site will be cheaper to maintain and secure. A White House official told the Washington Examiner that the new site will save roughly $3 million per year. 

All that cost-cutting might sound good, but people are still asking, where’s the Spanish-language version of the site that Trump axed in January? Sorry, that page does not exist.

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James Comey throws shade at Flynn and Trump with first Instagram post

Former FBI Director James Comey smiling at the thought of justice.
Former FBI Director James Comey smiling at the thought of justice.

Image: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

As hellfire prepares to rain down on the White House, former FBI Director James Comey is chillin’, you know, just getting his Instagram on.

After news broke that Trump’s former national security advisor Michael Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contact with Russia, Comey responded by posting his first Instagram and trolling the men with a biblical verse about justice.

“‘But justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream’ Amos 5:24,” Comey captioned a photo of Great Falls Park in Virginia, one which he’s shared on social media before.

In a previous tweet Comey called Amos 5:24 his “favorite scripture verse,” and said it reminds him of this image of the Great Falls. 

Flynn resigned back in February following reports that he had lied about communication with Russia prior to Trump taking office. Then, Comey was fired by Trump in May, which raised a few red flags seeing as the FBI was investigating potential ties between Trump’s administration and Russian government officials. 

Comey explained in a written memo that the day after Flynn resigned, Trump asked him to let any investigation surrounding Flynn to go, and later testified about his interactions with Trump to the Senate Intelligence Committee in June.

After Comey’s wild White House ride it’s pretty clear to see how Friday’s news could inspire him to sub-Instagram for joy about justice.

His Instagram handle, a_higher_loyalty, references the title of his upcoming book, “A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership” that’s expected to be released in Spring 2018.

Image: screengrab//instagram

It’s been a big year for Comey and social media, after the man recently revealed he is the owner of a highly speculated secret Twitter account where he used to go by the name Reinhold Niebuhr.

This is just the start of Comey’s Instagram presence — at the time of writing this article he only had a mere 10,000 followers, compared to his 442,000 Twitter followers — but maybe one day his trolling will reach Pete Souza levels.

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Here’s why ‘Hannity’ fans are destroying their Keurigs

Fans are smashing their Keurig coffee machines after the company pulled their ads from Sean Hannity’s political talk show on Fox News.

Keurig made the decision after receiving customer criticism for supporting the host who’s interview with Senate candidate Roy Moore caused major controversy.